TAMPA, Fla. – Nikita Kucherov scored in a breakaway and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves on Tuesday night, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning to finish the New York Rangers 4-1 and even the NHL’s Eastern Conference final with two games apiece.
Kucherov took a pass from Ondrej Palat in the center of the ice and skated on goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin to give the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions a two-goal lead in just over 13 minutes into the second period.
Pat Maroon, Steven Stamkos and Palat also scored for the Lightning, who recovered from losing the first two games of the series on the road to maintain their bid to become the first team in nearly 40 years to win three consecutive Stanley Cups. won titles.
Game 5 is Thursday-evening at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers won Games 1 and 2 and are 8-1 this postseason.
Vasilevskiy stopped 28 of 30 shots to win Game 3 and was even better on Tuesday night, extending a stretch where he didn’t concede a goal until nearly 67 minutes before New York’s Artemi Panarin scored on the power play at 16:27 of the third period of time.
Until Vasilevskiy’s bid for a shutout ended, the Rangers hadn’t scored since Chris Kreider’s power play goal put them 2-0 at 9:44 AM of the second period in Game 3.
Since then it has all been Tampa Bay, with Kucherov and Stamkos scoring to clear the Game 3 deficit before Palat won in the last minute.
The defending champion started faster on Tuesday evening, scoring just 2:38 in the game on Maroon’s rebound.
It was the third goal of the playoffs for Maroon, a 34-year-old fourth-line striker who is on the hunt for a fourth straight Stanley Cup title after winning with St. Louis in 2019 and signing for the following season. Tampa Bay.
Stamkos’ goal built the lead to 3-0 early in the third period. Palat added an empty net with 8.7 seconds to go and finished with a goal and two assists.
Shesterkin, who got 51 shots in Game 3, stopped 27 of 30 shots on Tuesday night.
COMMENTS: The Rangers played without striker Ryan Strome (lower body), who was scratched after skating during pre-game warm-ups. He was injured on Sunday when he retired in the second period after playing just over seven minutes. … New York forward Filip Chytil took off just past the middle of the second period on a goal from Lightning defender Victor Hedman. He missed the rest of the game with an upper body injury. … The Lightning played for the seventh straight game without forward Brayden Point, who has been out of the lineup since sustaining a lower body injury during Game 7 of Tampa Bay’s first round win over Toronto.